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(Un)doing youth sexualities: mapping young people’s bodies and pleasures beyond ‘sex’

Austin, Josie 2017. (Un)doing youth sexualities: mapping young people’s bodies and pleasures beyond ‘sex’. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores some of the complexities of young people’s sexual subjectivities by foregrounding their experiences during a range of bodily practices. While the majority of research in the field of youth sexuality has focused on negative outcomes, in my research I emphasise pleasure. I worked with a socio-economically and culturally diverse sample of 36 young women and men aged 16 to 18 from south Wales (U.K.). Together we explored their embodied experiences, and a range of different methods of researching these experiences. Rather than asking participants about specific sexual practices, I focused on what felt good (and bad) in and on their bodies in a wide variety of contexts. I used group and individual interviews, and object- and arts-based methods, to map what felt sexual and/or pleasurable to them. I explored the ways in which their sexual subjectivities emerged not only during activities normatively defined as ‘sex’, but also in their engagements with objects, technology, sports, dance, and when their bodies were still. Taking inspiration from feminist appropriations of the Deleuzo-Guattarian concepts of ‘becoming’, ‘assemblage’, ‘affect’, ‘territorialisation’, and ‘deterritorialisation’, I offer intricate mappings of the ways in which affective flows in specific encounters can limit or expand young people’s (sexual) capacities. My data highlights how gendered violence, ‘trophy sex’, objectification and disembodiment remain significant forces in many young people’s sexual lives, especially those of young women. However, my thesis also maps ruptures and ‘alternative figurations’ of youth sexualities (Braidotti 1994; see Renold and Ringrose 2008). I illustrate how young sexual subjectivities can move beyond normative notions of (hetero)sexuality, and how young people sometimes experience sexuality and pleasure in unexpected ways and places. My thesis points to the malleability and multiplicity of youth sexual subjectivities, and towards possibilities for re-imagined sexualities that exceed gendered bodies and phallocentric desire.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 December 2017
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 16:35

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